RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The Trump administration is waging a multi-pronged effort to thwart Iran’s expansion across the Middle East, including efforts at the United Nations to ensure global sanctions come back into effect in what would mark a final death blow for the landmark nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Washington Free Beacon in an exclusive and wide-ranging interview.
In a one-on-one talk with the Free Beacon on Friday following high-level meetings with the Saudi royal family in Riyadh, Pompeo pulled the curtain back on the Trump administration’s years-long effort to combat Iran militarily and diplomatically.
While that effort has faced many challenges, the administration remains steadfast in its pursuit of a global alliance that will end Iran’s nuclear weapons program and stymie its pursuit of regional dominance. Pompeo outlined the next steps the administration will be taking to eradicate Tehran’s growing influence in key Arab nations, including Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.
The secretary of state also opened up about mounting criticism he has faced from leading GOP hawks in Congress, who have been vocal in recent months about their disdain for a range of policies that they say have undermined the administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign on Iran. This includes a series of much-disputed sanctions waivers that have enabled Iran to continue some of its most contested nuclear work at a military site that once housed the country’s atomic weapons program.
In the coming months, Pompeo said, he and the president will make a major decision about whether to petition the U.N. to invoke what is known as “snapback” on a set of international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the Obama administration’s nuclear accord. Iran hawks in Congress have been pressing Pompeo and the administration to pursue this course of action for months, a message the secretary says he has received and is digging into. Such a move would deal a deathblow to the nuclear deal.